Shellfish plucked off the Isle of Skye’s dramatic coasts, melt-in-your-mouth Aberdeen Angus beef, wild game born in the depths of the Highlands… When it comes to food, Scotland certainly makes the most of its rich lands, seas and skies – and its restaurants serve up years of tradition with pride, flair and bursts of flavour. Don’t yet know your cullen skink from your rumbledethumps? Whether you’re after a simple fish supper or a full-blown Michelin starred journey, get your chops around some of the best Scottish cuisine at these buzzed-about dining destinations.
Best for: a charming lunch spot
Isle of Mull Cheese, Mull
Set on idyllic Mull, the second-largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the warm and welcoming Isle of Mull Cheese dairy farm is a thing of dreams. In its fairytale-like Garden Barn café – a show-stopping, glass-walled space filled with greenery and a mix-and-match of rustic décor – you can enjoy homemade pizzas, soups, ploughman’s lunches and, most of all, a selection of mouthwatering fine cheese straight from the farm. Grab some picked cucumbers as well as Hebridean blue and traditional Isle of Mull cheeses from the produce pharmacy shop, before venturing to the farm to meet the resident cows and learn about artisan cheese-making processes.
Location: Sgriob-ruadh Farm, Tobermory, Isle of Mull PA75 6QD
Best for: great Scottish food in a Scandi setting
With its minimalist interiors and equally minimalist menu, this small yet character-packed restaurant adds a contemporary Scandinavian twist to the shores of Loch Fyne in west Scotland. An ideal option for foodies seeking an elegant yet unfussy meal, it presents beautifully-plated dishes stripped down to reveal the wholesome flavours of its local, farmed ingredients. The fixed, four-course dinner menu includes must-tries such as radishes and ham hough, mackerel with mussels and cucumber, and Old Sot pork with white peach and golden beetroot. You’ll also find a small shop on site, where you can pick up sourdough bread and preserves for the road.
Location: Stracthlachlan, Strachur PA27 8BU
Opening hours: Wednesday (10.30am-5pm), Thursday to Saturday (10.30am-11pm) and Sunday (10.30am-5pm)
Best for: simple superfood
Foodstory Café, Aberdeen
Simple and hearty food is served up in an inviting setting at Aberdeen’s Foodstory Café, which prizes itself on bringing homemade, environmentally-friendly delights to the table. Open for breakfast through to dinner, you’ll find a vibrant mish-mash of vegan, organic and gluten-free options ranging from superfood porridge to salad bowls – all decorated with lashes of chutney, dashes of pesto and dollops of locally-sourced jam. Don’t miss its Friday Night Veggie Café menu, served weekly from 6-9pm.
Location: 13-15 Thistle St, Aberdeen AB10 1XZ
Opening hours: Monday (8am-5pm), Tuesday to Thursday (8am-9pm), Friday (8am-10pm) and Saturday (9am-9pm)
Best for: dinner, bed and breakfast
Kinloch Lodge Restaurant, Isle of Skye
Nestled in the Isle of Skye’s hilly and surreal landscape, Kinloch Lodge doubles up as a restaurant with sublime vistas by day, and a four-star hotel with seriously sophisticated credentials by night. Led by head chef Marcello Tully, Kinloch Lodge Restaurant brings a Michelin-starred experience to the Isle’s southeastern shores. Enjoy canapés in the drawing room, watch the chefs work their magic from behind a glass wall, and tuck into a delicious five-course fusion of local ingredients – picture steamed home-cured salmon wrapped in a seafood mousse, or cod fillet with caper and pistachio pesto, followed by vanilla crème fraîche panna cotta and homemade petits fours with coffee. The restaurant hosts a tasting experience, too, and matches its menus with a carefully-tailored wine list.
Location: Sleat, Isle of Skye IV43 8QY
Best for: fine dining in the capital
The Kitchin, Edinburgh
French class meets homely Scottish produce at The Kitchin, a Michelin-starred restaurant that brings a refined Nature-to-Plate philosophy to Edinburgh’s food scene. Its dove blue and grey interiors provide a cool and chic setting for colourful menus, from which the seafood options are worth writing home about – think hand-dived Orkney scallops, Gigas oysters from the Isle of Cumbrae and marinated tartare of line-caught Newhaven mackerel. Those who feel adventurous could opt for a seasonally-themed surprise tasting menu, on which dishes are perfectly matched with wines and champagne. The vegetarian options here are refreshingly imaginative, too, and range from braised fennel with sea purslane and orange confit, to carrot tatin with Ticklemore goats’ cheese (did we even mention the plum and almond soufflé with vanilla ice cream for dessert?).
Location: 78 Commercial St, Edinburgh EH6 6LX
Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday (12.15pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10pm) and Friday to Saturday (12.15pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm)
Best for: classic fish and chips
Cromars, St Andrews
You couldn’t go wrong with a stop at Cromars, voted the Best Fish & Chip Shop in Scotland in 2016. At this sustainable St Andrews hotspot, unassumingly set in a thick stone corner building, you’ll find that locally-sourced haddock and cod – all wrapped in a perfectly crisp batter and sprinkled with lemon juice – steal the show. Make room for the sides, though, as the Shetland mussels, homemade fishcakes, Amity scampi and pan-fried scallops certainly know how to make mouths water. You’ll find more than one accolade to this chippy’s name, too: Cromars has earned itself a 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and NFFF Fish & Chip Quality Award.
Location: 1 Union St, St Andrews KY16 9PQ
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (11am-11pm)
Best for: intriguing interior design
Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow
An arty brasserie in Glasgow’s bohemian West End, the Ubiquitious Chip has more than its character-packed interiors to boast about. Here, leafy surrounds and fairy lights provide quite the magical setting for a rich and elegant dinner proudly based on Scottish produce: Loch Melfort sea trout, Shetland cod, Galloway roe deer and, of course, the classic fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef, served with pepper sauce, crushed peas and potatoes. You’ve also a set pre-theatre menu to enjoy over lunch (with highlights such as citrus cured salmon, baked beetroot and stone bass with crab remoulade), as well as a full Scottish breakfast and flora, fauna and aqua-themed plates for brunch.
Location: 12 Ashton Ln, Glasgow G12 8SJ
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (11am-11pm)
Best for: Michelin-starred indulgence
Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Auchterarder
A constant purveyor of excellence, the acclaimed Andrew Fairlie restaurant offers refined cuisine between the walls of five-star golf-lover’s heaven, Gleneagles Hotel. With two Michelin stars under its belt, it crafts a culinary journey through menus inspired by its surrounds and seasonal produce. Opt for à la carte fare, including caramelised veal sweetbreads, hand-dived scallops and Highland lamb shoulder, each perfectly roasted, slow-cooked and dressed with all manner of sauces and wine jus. Those after a surprise should treat themselves to the tantalising dégustation menu, which covers home-smoked Scottish lobster through to frozen goat’s cheese parfait with apricot and honey.
Location: Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder PH3 1NF
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday (7pm-10pm)
Best for: veggies and vegans
Folk Cafe, Dundee
Set right by the train station, this corner café serves up a feast to both the eyes and stomach with its colourful, veggie and vegan-friendly selection of salads, pastries and sandwiches. A modest affair with understated décor – the only obvious features you’ll find here are fancy lights and small paintings on cream-toned walls – it is undoubtedly the food counter that’s left to make a grand impression. You’ll find all sorts of extravagantly-seasoned, sizeably-portioned, feel-good options, whether you’re in the mood for a carrot and courgette muffin, the tart or tortilla of the day, or an explosion of feta, roast tomato, spicy olives and tzatziki in a baked focaccia. Breakfast and lunch are both available here at a very modest price, alongside staple coffees, teas and sweet treats.
Location: 118 Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4EH
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday (8am-6pm)
Best for: an unforgettable setting
The Three Chimneys, Isle of Skye
A gem of a restaurant on the Isle of Skye, The Three Chimneys offers a romantic setting by the sea – an ideal escape for foodies as much as for nature-lovers. Open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant puts a refreshing spin on local fare, with Loch Harport oysters, Skye deer and Dunvegan crab all featuring high on the menu. The Skye, Land and Sea tasting menu makes a particularly authentic way to explore the area’s best flavours, and covers everything from Skye shellfish through to Sconser scallop tartare with pea sorbet. You’ll also find homely five-star accommodation here, each with sea views and direct access to the shore, should all that indulging make you need a lie down.
Location: Colbost House, Dunvegan, Colbost, Isle of Skye IV55 8ZT
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (12.15pm-9.30pm)
Best for: destination dining
The Witchery, Edinburgh
For a quirky, romantic and out-of-the-ordinary dining experience, make a beeline for The Witchery – a unique spot with boutique guest rooms on the capital’s Royal Mile, right by the imposing Edinburgh Castle. At this exceptionally dark and atmospheric restaurant, Gothic-style interiors (red leather seats, old oak panelling, heavy curtains and candelit tables) go hand-in-hand with a succulent menu of pan-roast grey mullet, grilled mackerel and summer berry gratin. With its painted ceiling, dried floral decorations and French windows leading out to a secluded terrace, the Witchery’s entrancing Secret Garden is also well worth exploring.
Location: Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2NF
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday (12pm-11.30pm)
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